Veteran film producers Kelly Gregory and Thom Pancella, both of UMSL’s Missouri Institute of Mental Health, have seen one of their works garner international attention. The documentary, “Good Golly Miss Molly! A Family’s Transition Story,” will be screened at the 13th annual Picture This Film Festival (PTFF) in Calgary on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
The PTFF, Canada’s largest devoted to productions by and/or about persons with disabilities, will screen 40 films from 15 countries. Six were selected from the United States.
“Good Golly Miss Molly!” tells the story of Molly Thomas who, at just four years old, was placed in the Marshall Habilitation Center where her family felt she could receive the best care. Fifty-eight years later, Molly’s siblings guided her transition process out of the center and into community living.
Families around the globe face similar decisions regarding the care of their loved ones, so the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council (then under the name Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities) commissioned the film through MIMH to document the transition process.
The film introduces viewers to Molly, her family and her caregivers, and the production team learned a great deal from the experience. “Molly’s disability may make you think she can’t communicate,” says Gregory, “but from the very first I was convinced that she has very definite ideas, likes and dislikes, and tries her best to make them known.”
Pancella agrees. “There are some stories that just tell themselves. Molly may not be able to speak for herself, but she has a terrific story, and it’s an honor to share it with the world.”
Research Associate Professor Joel Epstein, who is Gregory and Pancella’s supervisor at the MIMH, explained that he was glad to see his staff get the recognition they deserve. “I’ve always known they excel at what they do,” Epstein said, “so I encouraged them to submit their work to the festival.” He hopes the honor will serve to garner additional interesting projects.
Kelly Gregory, senior multimedia specialist, has been with the MIMH since 1994 and was a 2013 winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence. Thom Pancella, Project Director, joined the MIMH in 1988 while it was still called the Missouri Institute of Psychiatry, and he is currently working toward a bachelor's degree in English at UMSL.
The film “Good Golly Miss Molly!” was followed with “Beyond Expectations…the Continuing Story of Molly Thomas,” which shows Molly’s progress since the initial transition. Both films can be seen at www.MIMHTraining.com/Molly, and additional examples of MIMH’s educational videos can be seen at www.YouTube.com/cetv.